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Hamburger Helper

Monday, January 04, 2010

There are a few secret ingredients that I call on time and again to make delicious meals, three things that I know will turn something "so-so" into something spectacular: sea salt, fresh garlic, and thyme.

If you feel like your dish is "missing a little something," it's probably one of these three.

Here's another quick-and-easy meal that can be prepared in about 45 minutes, from scratch. This will feed a family of 5, with leftovers, or up to 8 people. Cut it in half for a smaller crew.

Spicy Hamburger Scrambler
Feeds up to 8 people

2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. butter
2 lbs. ground beef or game (I used moose)
1 lg. onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3 tsp. (1 tbsp.) sea salt, coarse gray
2 tsp. dried thyme
8 med. red potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes
4 lg. carrot sticks, peeled and chopped fine (I used my Food Chopper)
4 celery sticks, chopped fine
1 tsp. cracked black pepper

Brown meat in olive oil and butter in a cast iron skillet (if you are cutting the recipe in half, a 12-inch cast iron pan would work). I recommend using a lid if your meat is lean to retain juices. When nearly completely browned, add onion and garlic and sauté until onions are soft. Add salt, thyme, and vegetables. If your meat is lean, or you are not using a lid, you may need to add some more butter at this point for flavour and moisture. Cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are soft (about 20-25 minutes), add pepper, and serve with home made crème fraiche or ketchup.

Variation: After it is finished cooking, you can sprinkle with about 1 cup of grated cheddar and put lid back on for a few minutes so it will melt before serving.

If you prefer, after you add your vegetables and seasonings, you can cover, add a few tablespoons of water or beef stock (if necessary) and finish in a 375 degree oven, about 25 minutes.

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